6 former Mississippi high school football stars will play in Super Bowl LV

The 2021 Super Bowl will have a little bit of a Mississippi flavor when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs take the field Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The Magnolia State is well represented with seven former high school stars in the big game, trailing only Florida (14), Pennsylvania (9), California (8) and Texas (8). And all seven players are on the Chiefs.

Only six of them are scheduled to play on Sunday, though. Rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. reportedly tore his meniscus in practice and will not play in the Super Bowl.

Here are the seven players in alphabetical order:

Willie Gay Jr., Kansas City Chiefs LB

High school: Starkville (Class of 2017)

College: Played at Mississippi State from 2017-2019

NFL: Drafted in the 2nd round of 2020 NFL Draft by Kansas City

2020 stats: 39 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

Injury update: Gay reportedly tore his meniscus in practice and will not play in the Super Bowl.

Darius Harris, Kansas City Chiefs LB

High school: Horn Lake (Class of 2014)

College: Played at Middle Tennessee from 2014-2018

NFL: Signed with Kansas City as undrafted free agent in 2019

2020 stats: 14 tackles, 1 pass defensed, 1 fumble recovery

Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs DT

High school: Houston (Class of 2013)

College: Played at Mississippi State from 2013-2015

NFL: Drafted in 2nd round of 2016 NFL Draft by the Chiefs

2020 stats: 36 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 4 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles

Thakarius ‘BoPete’ Keyes, Kansas City Chiefs DB

High school: Laurel (Class of 2015)

College: Played at Tulane from 2015-2019

NFL: Drafted in 7th round of 2020 NFL Draft by the Chiefs

2020 stats: 8 tackles

Martinas Rankin, Kansas City Chiefs OL

High school: Mendenhall (Class of 2013)

College: Played at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC from 2013-2014, then at Mississippi State from 2015-2017

NFL: Drafted in 3rd round of 2018 NFL Draft by Texans; traded to Chiefs in Aug. 2019

2020 stats: Started one game

Note: With starting tackle Eric Fisher likely out with an Achilles injury, Rankin could start in the Super Bowl.

Charvarius Ward, Chiefs DB

High school: McComb (Class of 2014)

College: Played at Hinds CC from 2014-2015, then at Middle Tennessee from 2016-2017

NFL: Signed with Cowboys as undrafted free agent in 2018; traded to Chiefs before 2018 season

2020 stats: 38 tackles, 1 sack

Damien Wilson, Chiefs LB

High school: Amite County (Class of 2011)

College: Played at Jones County CC from 2011-2012, then at Minnesota from 2013-2014

NFL: Drafted in 4th round of 2015 NFL Draft by Cowboys; signed with Chiefs in March 2019

2020 stats: 46 tackles, 1 forced fumble

(Feature photo by Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0)

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